Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Play! by Sephora | January 2017

January's Play! by Sephora box arrived, and I have to say, I think it;s the best box I've gotten yet. Lots of deluxe samples from brands I love. I won't rave for long... let's get right to it. One last thing, though - if you want to subscribe, click here. It's $10/month and if you love to try beauty products from Sephora brands, I don't think you'll regret your purchase. 

Here's what came in January's box...

  • Dermablend Loose Setting Powder in Natural - A loose setting powder that boasts 16 hours of wear time. Locks in makeup and enhances wearability.
  • Ouai Treatment Masque - A hair mask that aims to make hair soft and smooth. Claims to repair hair and mend split ends. Free of parabens and pthalates. 
  • Pinrose Wild Child perfume - A perfume comprised of tiare flower, bergamot, gardenia, jasmine, frangipani, vanilla bean and amber. 
  • Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey - A lipstick made for any skin color or look, made to be universally flattering (although this color does not look good on me). Free of parabens. Black Honey is a deep brick red color that washes lightly on the lips in an almost balmy way. 
  • Tarte FRXXXTION Stick Exfoliating Cleanser - Good for all skin types, this cleanser helps with oil, pores and uneven skin texture. It's a cleanser, exfoliator and mask in one. Free of parabens and pthalates. 
  • Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Face Lifting Moisturizer - A decent sized moisturizer sample that's oil-free and aims to sculpt the face, firm and smooth lines. Free of parabens, sulfates and pthalates. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Setting Sprays | Why, how and where to purchase!

Setting sprays - some people love them, some people think they're gimmicky and unnecessary. I happen to be part of the first camp. My makeup routine doesn't feel complete without a quick spritz and I swear by the powers of a fine mist of magic potion. 

So... how? Well, there are a couple ways. Some people like to spritz their face prior to applying makeup, but my tried and true way is saving a setting spray for the very last step. Once I've applied foundation, done my eye makeup, blush, and topped it all off with a powder, I bring out the setting spray and go to town. If a setting spray is any good, the mist is fine enough that it won't leave big drops of water on your face to screw up your makeup. I prefer misting at the end because it helps take the edge off a powdered face, creating a more natural finish for makeup. 

Up until recently, high-end brands used to be the only ones creating and carrying setting sprays. They were virtually non-existent in the drugstore. In the last couple years, setting sprays have gotten more affordable and brands like L'Oreal, Wet n Wild, and Hard Candy all have their own sprays that you can find at Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, just to name a few stores. And don't be fooled, drugstore setting sprays aren't any less effective than higher-end versions. 

Above are just a few of the sprays I have on hand. The Evian setting spray is most basic, it's just a purified water spray - great for hydration and refreshing the skin, and no chemicals to be seen. Find a full review of this product here

Two of my absolute favorites are MAC Fix+ and Urban Decay All Nighter Spray. I like Mac Fix+ with foundations and powders that leave me looking really matte and unnatural. It adds a bit of moisture and dew back to my face, and helps everything look more natural. It sprays out in a fine mist and I go to town spritzing this all over.

I like the All Nighter spray from Urban Decay when I want some added lasting power, or on foundations that are already a bit dewy and leave me with a sheen. It's not a miracle worker for longevity, but it does help keep my makeup looking better for longer.

I think experimentation is key. Thanks to the drugstore, it's affordable to try out a few different setting sprays and see what formulas you like and what you don't. They're a nice step that's not necessary, but surely something you'll come to love and incorporate in to your routine once you find one that works for you. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

December Empties | #32

The end of the year was like an unintentional crunch time, using things up before 2016 was gone - my empties bag was loaded to the top full of things and I hardly even tried to finish stuff up! 

Why show your trash, you say? Because - when you use something up, you know whether or not it was good or worth repurchasing because you actually used the whole thing! You know? If you love empties posts the way I do, check out some of my other posts here and here

Here's what I used up in the month of December...

  • Everyday Shea Vanilla Mint shampoo (would not repurchase) - I wanted to like this shampoo because the ingredients are pure and I typically love vanilla mint scented things, but this just didn't clean my hair well enough. My husband mostly used this and he didn't hate it, but he didn't love it either.
  • Ole Henriksen Aloe Vera Deep Cleanser (would repurchase) - This is a very gentle cleanser. It smells lightly of eucalyptus, and cleanses without stripping the skin of necessary oils. I found this big bottle at TJ Maxx for $10, but if you buy it at Sephora it'll set you back nearly $50!
  • Rituals Shanti Shower Oil (would repurchase) - I bought this for the sole purpose of using it as a shaving "cream" ..er ... oil. It worked fabulously. It lathers slightly and kept my legs from feeling like the Sahara before I got out of the shower and applied lotion. I'd totally buy this again in the future. (more on this here)
  • Alaffia Skin Recovery Facial Toner (would not repurchase) - I got this on sale, but wouldn't buy it again at full price. It smelled nice and didn't do anything bad to my skin, but I don't like spray toners and I feel like I used this up really fast.
  • TonyMoly Cat's Clear Wink compact (would not repurchase) - I was sent this powder from MEMEBOX, and it was fine, but mostly it was cute. It had a tendency to make my skin too matte and my foundation look a tad cakey. There are other powders I prefer to this. (see full review here)
  • Wet n Wild Mega Liner (would repurchase) - This is an old love of mine, but if you go looking for it, it's been reformulated and the packaging is way different. I've been told the new formula is not the same, but I have yet to put this to the test.
  • Avon Cream Eyeshadow in Frothy Mocha (would repurchase) - I'm so sad this dried out because this shadow is gorgeous and perfect for every day. Unfortunately, I think this is discontinued which breaks my heart! (see it in action here)
  • Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara (would repurchase) - I got this for my bottom lashes because the brush is super small and skinny. It's not the best, it tends to flake off on me a bit, but I'd probably buy it again because it's affordable and widely available. 
  • L'Oreal Lash Out Butterfly mascara (would repurchase) - I don't think this exact version of the butterfly mascara is available anymore, but I loved this. It made a favorites post earlier this year, and I'd certainly give other versions a try in the future!
  • Simple Micellar Cleansing Water (would repurchase) - If I was a micellar water kind of girl, which I'm not, I'd get this again. I used it to remove some extra traces of eye makeup and it did the job. You can find this easily at the drugstore for a decent price. 
  • Hanalei Lip Treatment (would repurchase) - I got this in a past Ipsy bag and I freakin' loved it. It smelled amazing and was perfect to use at night before bed. I definitely want a full size of this in the future. 
  • Burt's Bees Lip Balm with Pomegranate (would not repurchase) - I *hated* this stuff. It actually chapped my lips the more I used it, so I didn't even finish this thing. I do not understand the hype that Burt's Bees has - there are way better natural lip balms on the market. 
  • CO Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine in Vanilla Mint (would repurchase) - I adore these lip glosses. They're cooling and they always soothe my sore, chapped lips. I love having one of these in my purse at all times. You can find them at Bath & Body Works.
  • Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist 24 Eye Cream (would purchase) - I fell in love with this sample. It's super hydrating and actually a tad oily, which is great for someone like me who tends to have dry, crepe-y under eyes. I definitely want to get a full size of this in the future.  
  • Swisspers Cotton Rounds (would repurchase) - Still working through my mega Costco sized box of these, and still loving them. 
  • TonyMoly Tea Tree Sheet Mask (would not repurchase) - I've got a whole set of these masks from Amazon (the best value if you want to try out these super popular masks) and I had high hopes for this one, but I didn't notice it doing much for my skin. I preferred the Red Wine mask over this one. 
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Removing Wipes (would not repurchase) - Holy moly, these are so fragranced. Enough to bug me, and enough to make me not want to buy them again. Personally, I'm really over makeup wipes. Once I work through my back stash of them, I'm going the cleansing oil/balm route for makeup removal for good.
  • Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Whitening Plus Toothpaste (would repurchase) - I was pleasantly surprised by this toothpaste. It was super minty and foamed up nicely and the ingredients are good! 
  • Tom's Wicked Cool toothpaste (would not repurchase) - This is the worst toothpaste ever. It doesn't make my teeth feel clean, it's barely minty... just yuck.
  • Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil (would not repurchase) - This stuff gets so much hype, and I don't understand it. I didn't think it was that great of a cleansing oil, and for the price, you can get way better ones for cheaper. 
  • First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser (would not purchase) - There's nothing special about this face wash. It was fine, and it's a shimmery red color which is interesting, but I wouldn't spend the money on a full size bottle. 
  • LaVanila deodorant in Vanilla Snowberry (would repurchase) - This was part of last year's holiday deo trio, so this scent isn't available anymore. It was nice. LaVanila is my favorite natural deodorant brand, and it made my best of 2016.
  • Four Elements Love Infused Body Oil (would repurchase) - I love this brand and this body oil, it's made with amazingly natural ingredients. I used this on my stomach when I was pregnant, and then as an all over  moisturizer even after I had my son. If you don't like the scent of rose, you won't like this, but there are other scents to choose from. 
  • Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy perfume (would not repurchase) - God, after a 3.4 oz bottle of this, I am so over this scent. I loved it in my early college years, and now the scent is a bit more juvenile than I'd prefer. 
  • Benefit Ooh La Lift (would repurchase) - This is a nice under eye brightener. It isn't amazing, but it did help my undereyes look less crepe-y. 
  • Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm (would repurchase) - This is a real pricey eye cream, but it's good stuff. It's lightweight but hydrating. (full review here)
  • Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Treatment Oil (would not purchase) - There's nothing special about this face oil. I mixed it in with my moisturizer in the morning for an added boost of hydration. I wouldn't buy this in a full size.
  • Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub in Hawaiian Kukui (would repurchase) - Tree Hut scrubs are my favorite body scrubs ever. They're affordable and have lots of scrubbies to get your body feelin' silky soft in no time. They don't leave a residue and they all smell amazing.
  • Trader Joe's Pumpkin Body Butter (would repurchase) - This was really nice, but it's seasonal so you won't find it at Trader Joe's again until next fall. It was so good it made a favorites post earlier this year.
  • Soap & Glory Butter Yourself Body Cream (would repurchase) - Every single one of Soap & Glory's body creams smell so good, this one is no different. It is lightly moisturizing and smells divine. 
  • White Barn candle in Thankful (would repurchase) - This was a really nice, smoky and nutty scent that I enjoyed. I believe it comes out annually, and I'd consider getting it again. 
  • Better Homes wax melts in Pure White Woods (would not repurchase) - These wax melts were super strong, musky and fresh. One cube is enough to smell up my entire house. The smell isn't bad, but not my favorite. 
  • Trader Joe's Cedar Balsam candle (would repurchase) - I loved this candle from Trader Joe's! I think it was a new release for the holidays. It smelled like Christmas - piney and woodsy. I hope they come out with more candles in the future. 
  • Better Homes wax melts in Spiced Apple Wreath (would repurchase) - These smell just like you'd imagine. Fruity with a hint of holiday spice. I liked these and would buy them again if I saw them. 
  • Frostbeard Candles candle in Headmaster's Office (would not repurchase) - I wanted to love this, but I was super underwhelmed. It hardly had a scent throw, which was really disappointing. I wouldn't get it again. (see more here

What did you use up recently? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Top 10 of 2016 | Year in Review

Holy cow... where did the year go, you guys?! I know people are loving hating on 2016, but while there were definitely lows, there were a lot of good times, too and I'm not going to poo-poo the whole year. Experiencing lows makes you grateful for the highs, ya know? This year my husband and I went to Hawaii, our son was born, we spent quality time with family and friends, and adjusted to being new parents. It's been a wildly fun ride, and I'm looking forward to 2017 with high hopes.

I always like to cap off the year with my list of stand out products, highlighting the things that I came back to again and again. Not all the products are new, but they're the things I like the most during the year. Check out 2015 and 2014's lists here. 

In no particular order, here are my top 10 beauty products of 2016.

1. Yes to Coconuts Facial Souffle Moisturizer (full review)

This moisturizer was fantastic. I clearly am not the only one who thought so, because it's always sold out at my local Target. It's moisturizing without being greasy and oily, the ingredients are good, and it never broke me out. It has a light coconut fragrance that doesn't smell synthetic. It's affordable and you get a lot of product for the price. Worth checking out!

2. L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation (See Favorites)

 This foundation worked its way up to my top 5 favorite foundations. When applied with a damp beautyblender, it gives full coverage that isn't cakey and it lasts all day long. I wear the lightest shade, Classic Ivory 101, but there are 12 total shades to choose from and they can be found at the drugstore. For under $15, this foundation is one you've got to try if you're a full coverage foundation kind of girl.

3. Covergirl In Full Bloom mascara (see Favorites

I did not expect to fall in love with this mascara. I bought it at Big Lots and tried it on a whim, and it was a grower. I realized one day how much I loved the way my lashes looked. They looked full like I was wearing fake lashes, but natural all at the same time. It's cheap and found at the drugstore, and it's really the perfect mascara for those who want drama OR those who want to keep it simple. It's a buildable formula, great for whatever your lash preference may be. 

4. Tarte Tarteist Clay Paint eyeliner (see Full Review)

I'm a bold, matte black eyeliner kind of girl. I don't mess around with natural browns, or funky colors.... I want it black and bold. That's it. I had a feeling that I would love the Tarteist eyeliner when it first came out, and I was right. It's everything I love in an eyeliner. It's easy to work with, dries down bold and matte, and it's super black. It's on the pricier end, but one tube will last you ages. 

5. Benefit Gimme Brow

I can't believe I haven't talked about this on my blog, save for an empties post. This is my go-to foolproof eyebrow product. It's quick, you just brush it on, and it adds volume (fibers) and tint to your lashes. It's faster than drawing them in with a liner, and it looks natural. It's a higher end, pricier product, but I will buy it again and again because it's that good.

6. Milani Brow Shaping Gel

This brow product has become a staple of mine on days when I use brow powder or liner. It's a clear gel that rivals the much beloved Anastasia brow gel. It doesn't make your brows crusty, it just holds them nicely in place. It's affordable and a quality product. 

7. Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon perfume (see Full Review)

Oh lordy lordy, you guys already know my love for all of the Elizabeth & James perfumes. When two new scents were launched this fall, I bought both immediately without ever laying my nose to them, and I regretted nothing. I love both scents, but Nirvana Bourbon I loved just a little bit more. It's smoky, musky, woodsy and sexy. A fabulous autumn evening scent. These perfumes are Sephora exclusives and are relatively affordable for quality, lasting fragrances.

8. beautyblender

The beautyblender totally changed my makeup game. It applies foundation like a dream, removing all cakeyness and blending effortlessly. There are no alternatives that work like the beautyblender, and I have no idea why. There's something unique about the beautyblender, it doesn't soak up all your foundation the way most other sponges do. It stays on the surface and blends it in to your skin. I never thought I'd spend $20 on a freakin' makeup sponge, but I've done it many a time now and I won't be without one. 

9. Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation (see Full Review)

I really need to do an updated review of this, but this foundation has made every single yearly favorites. It's my go-to and it works like a charm on my skin. I have heard from others that if you have dry skin, this isn't for you, but I have pretty normal, combo skin that loves this stuff. It has full coverage without looking like I'm wearing tons of foundation. It lasts all day and doesn't rub off when I touch my skin. It costs under $10 and is easily found at any drugstore. I absolutely love it. 

10. LaVanila The Healthy Deodorant

I don't use anti-perspirants. I've gone the natural deodorant route, and I've tried so many in the quest to find one that works for me. After much trial, I'm completely decided that LaVanila is the one for me. Every scent I've tried, I loved. Now - be warned - what works for me may not be the miracle for you; natural deodorants are very subjective and what works varies widely from person to person. LaVanila isn't the cheapest natural deodorant, but I often buy them around the holidays when value sets are sold and I get enough to last the year. If you're in the market for a natural deodorant, I'd recommend trying LaVanila.

Cheers to 2017 and I wish you all a very happy 2017!

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